Sunday, December 18, 2011

Key West Bound!

I finally got packed and headed out to my sister's house for Thanksgiving.  Two days later I was headed for Key West.  My car was packed.  I had two bikes, my fishing gear, clothes, items from home, bead making supplies, books, and kitchen stuff that I wanted to bring.  Only the driver's seat was open.  Off for a 1600 mile trip or 24 hours of driving.  Leaving Michigan behind I made it just north of Atlanta the first day.  Then I stopped by the GA/FL border to visit with my cousin, Mary Jo.  Then the second night I detoured to
Englewood to visit with Gary & Carol, friends from the Traverse City area.

I was on the road early the third morning and headed down 41 towards Miami.  It is a nice drive over on the top edge of the Everglades.  Not much traffic and then I turned south on 997 to Highway 1.  I actually enjoy the drive down.  Starting down the Keys, the many bridges are always nice to view.

This picture is just as I started the Keys section.  I stopped in Marathon to get my FL fishing license and a few odds and ends (4 #s of squid).  Soon the A1A mile markers were in double digits and counting off as I headed south.  This is my 8th winter of heading out to Key West.
Stock Island and headed down Flager Avenue.  Just as I got close to Duval, "WHAM", I got hit on my right side of my car.  It was a loud thud and I got out to see the damage.  All I could see was a few feather on my antenna.  Some pigeon took off a little too slow and he got thunked by the antenna.  He survived and my car was undamaged.  The feathers are still on the antenna after 2 weeks!

Here the car is parked in front of our Duval and Catherine home, a 1928 "Shotgun" style Conch Cottage.  My daughter, Molly, & Joey rent the back and I have the front.  It is a small house but divided into two complete living areas.

You walk down the side of the house and you can see my doormat for my door.  No yard but it does have a patio in back with a grill, table/chairs, hot tub, and solar outside shower.

This is the view as you enter the side door. The downstairs has a large, red tile floor. The kitchen is small but fine for me. If you turn left, the bathroom and full title shower is there.

This is the view to you right as you enter the door.  The large, overstuffed couch against the front wall is where we like to read.  You can see the ladder going up to the loft bedroom.  Molly and Joey have a large downstairs bedroom in the back unit and a loft bedroom.

 This is the loft bedroom in my unit.  You have be careful of the low ceilings.  Note the air conditioner vent to the right of the bed.  Just remember to turn the AC down before going to sleep or you will feel a draft in the night.  Quaint, small, but "just the way I like it".

I unpacked my bike and put away my things so now for my first bike ride in Key West this year.  We didn't come down last year so this was going to take a little time to re-adjust.

I decided to head down to Mallory Square for the Sunset Celebration. 

There are usually two cruise ships that park for the day at least 4 days a week.  Every night, Sunset Celebration takes place with street performers and different booths selling wares.  You can always find the "Catman of Key West" (Google this guy!!) performing with his trained street cats.  He is a hoot.

Molly always tells me to do random acts of kindness every day.  I noticed this couple from the cruise ship and popped a picture.

I gave the couple my e-mail and just send them pictures of "getting engaged" in KW.  She was happy to get the memories of their unique Sunset Celebration.

So much for the start of my KW vacation.  If you have any requests of visits or photos, just let me know.  I plan to go fishing, sailing, snorkeling and "happy hour"ing Key West Style.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Boat....for us!

I am a member of the South Fox Island Lighthouse Assocation (FILA)
and our boat has reached it's useful service life.  It was a 26', twin engine, fiberglass boat that was expensive to run.  It did it's job but wasn't reliable.  Finally, we decided not to put it in the water.  After a summer of relying upon friends to volunteer their boats (we paid for the gas) it was too hard to coordinate the boat availability with the weather, and the volunteer's schedules.  We needed a boat.

Our Captain of the Sea, Phil, had in mind a smaller, lightweight and more economical boat.  I received an e-mail from Phil about a boat near my home.  Would I mind going over to look at it?  No problem!

This was much larger than my fishing boat.  Gee, it sure looked in great shape.  It was a boat that the owner loved to take out in Lake Michigan for summer salmon.  You can see it was rigged for big water trolling.  It was an older 1987 Starcraft Islander with only 1246 hours on the engine.  Not bad for the age of the boat. The owner recently died and his wife was selling it.

I decided that I better take pictures to send to Phil to see if he wanted to come down to look at it.

This was rigged to have 8 fishing poles in use.  Down riggers, flat lines, out riggers, and a huge fish cooler on the back.  The white storage cover was in great shape.  Now to see the inside.

This was smaller than our present boat, but it was closer to what we were looking for.  

The engine was a 3 Liter four cylinder , OMC - Cobra inboard.  The engine oil on the dipstick was clean and the engine looked well cared for.  The twin engines on the old boat were down in the hull and you had to climb down inside to work on them.

How did they keep the cushions so clean on a fishing boat?  This is looking better all the time.  I wonder who would use the port-a-potty on a boat at sea?  I guess ....   someone desperate!

A fish finder and GPS deph finder could be very useful in navigating the shoals around South Fox Island.  The dashboard needs a new covering.  I think that can be replaced.

Compass, that is good.   Whoa, there are a lot of guages and switches on that dashboard.  I wonder why there are 3 drain plugs on the dash?  Guess, I'll find out.

Eight people, 1200 pounds....that is less than the other boat but we are done with the small projects and will be using this boat to just transport people out to the island to work.  The contractors will carry the heavy supplies in their boat.

I overloaded Phil's computer by sending all these pictures, so I burned them on a disc and sent it out.  Two days later Phil called and wanted to see the boat.

We came, we saw, we bought.  Phil and I decided to become partners on the boat as we still had to sell our old boat.  This will give us time to see if the Starcraft does what we need it to do. 

The outfit weighs 4800 pounds and my Explorer is rated for 3500 pounds.  Phil asked me to tow it to Northport.  The owner towed it with a Jimmy so I knew I could tow it, but could I stop it?  I never went over 50 mph and was very, very careful.  It was a relief to end up at Phil's pole barn.  We made a deal on the boat to just buy the boat and strip off the fishing gear.  That was alright with me.  I would rather drift and/or do 2 rod trolling.  We have spent several days getting it cleaned up to winterize it.  We drained the water and got it ready for the new outdoor cover. 

The back cooler rack will be used to partially hold up our dingy.

Next summer, we will run it out to the island.  As part owner, I will take it out in Grand Traverse Bay for a few fishing trips to make sure the boat is operating correctly.  A boat needs to be exercised so the trailer tires don't go flat.  I'll do my part.  I will be 1st mate,  in-training to become the alternate driver of this vessel.  I am sure I'll have a few adventures to post next summer.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall, 2011 has Arrived

How the time flies when you are having fun.  Sorry it has been a while since I posted.   Had some great times so this will just highlight what has been going on "Up North".

I had a great kayak trip down the Jordan River.  Here are a few shots.

This is a nice little stream that gently flows down a beautiful valley.  It is a cold water stream and very few cottages.

The Jordan has a nice flow and you only have to watch the corners and the few logs.  These just serve to keep your attention on what you are doing.  Molly, Joey Gary, and Jane went with me this fine late summer day.

About 3/4s of the way you go through the culvert pipe under the crossing road.  It is a fun chute down to the next level.  My kayak always tips down and I get wet during this slight plunge. 

We saw a great canoe.  Here are a few shots.  He is a professional fishing guide and owns a restaurant.

How cool is that?

And check out the bow.

Remember, you can click on any picture to enlarge it.

I am in the middle, my brother, Gary, is on my right and my daughter, Molly is on my left.  Sorry, this shot was posted for my family.

Next adventure was a boat ride out to South Fox Island from Northport.  I got a call from Phil that he wanted a crew to go out to the lighthouse and do some grounds keeping work.  I got my crew together.  I am on the board of the South Fox Island Lighthouse Association (FILA) and we are restoring the seven building on South Fox Island.

The FILA  boat has outlived it's useful days so we are relying on friends to get us out to the island.  It takes about 2 hours and $200 of gas to get out so we want to have a full work crew going along.

Because of the wind and water conditions, we had to anchor off the East beach.  It was shallow and we just climbed overboard and carried our working supplies to the island, down the beach, up the trail to the lighthouse.  It was a hike!

This is a shot to the lighthouse building from the boathouse walkway.  Note the new red metal roof we installed a year ago.

We had to mow, cut shubbery back, spray and pull poison ivy.  Nasty work, but the jungle wants to reclaim the land so every trip out includes these basic chores. Molly, Joey and JJ are hard at work.

Gary and Phil re-install the grate over the lighthouse door at the end of the work session.
Now it is time for a beach walk.

Molly is taking the short-cut to the beach and boat by cutting through the woods and down the hill.

You can see the Fog Signal Tower in the background.  After the walk and a swim it was time to head back to the boat and load up for the trip home.

When Fall comes, the salmon start running.  The first place to get them is off the pier.  These fish are fresh and strong.  Most of the anglers are using Little Cleos or plugs to catch them.

There is nothing like a 15-18 # salmon hitting your lure.  Bang... then they kick it into high gear.  The first two runs are so strong that you have to let them take line.  Steady pressure after that and you will be rewarded with a fresh, silver salmon that is good eating.

Even I get lucky!  It hit a glo Cleo about 7:00 am.

This is a shot at the Little Man Weir.  It is loaded with salmon, awaiting the DNR to collect eggs.  It is quite an operation.  The large salmon are guided up chutes to the station where they are stunned by a mechanical devise and then air is injected into the stomach and the eggs pop out.  They are fertilized with milt and shipped off to surrounding states and also used for our planting in Michigan.

Random Fish shots.  This is your reward for reading along so far.

This is what 800 salmon look like in the the Little Man.

Charlie with a Backwaters smallmouth bass.

Here I am with a Fall smallmouth bass.  I was using a curly tail jig.

This is for Kelly and Jeff, a picture of a cougar near Sleeping Bear Dunes.  They heard this cat under their feet as they climbed up the Scenic Outlook near Arcadia Bluffs on a late summer night.

Perch and largemouth bass from Portage Lake.

A summer brown hit the black maribou streamer, which was above a white streamer.  I guess black is best.

A nice bluegill hit my brown streamer on Portage Lake.

Another summer largemouth bass from Portage Lake.

Well, that is all for now.  I hope to get into the Fall Feeding Frenzy that I read about.  I am not putting my boat and fishing gear away just yet.  Steelhead are starting and I still want to hit the Backwaters before I head down to Key West for 6 weeks.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grayling in MIchigan

I just read an article  in the Great Lakes Life and Times abouty a plan to bring back Grayling to Michigan.  Overfishing and destruction of trout habitat from lumbering led to the demise of the Arctic Grayling in Michigan streams. 

Image Detail

The Little River Band of Indians is trying to plan for the re-establishing of the Arctic Grayling in the Manistee River with help from Michigan Technological University.  The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians received a US Fish and Wildlife Service tribal wildlife grant to partially fund a native species restoration plan.

The Manistee River was selected to be studied for the stocking of Grayling.  The Manistee River flows southwest for over 230 miles.  A seven year sturgeon restoration on the Manistee River has continued with support from the Little River Band and Michigan Tech.  The Manistee River has more than 80 species of fish and the 11 mile section from Hodenpyle to Tippy Dam was selected because of it's remoteness and six cold water inputs.

The grayling is distinctive by an oversized dorsal fin.  Montana has the sole self-sustaining grayling population in the lower 48 states.  I did catch grayling in Yellowstone National Park a few years back.  We parked and hiked with float tubes several miles back  to Grebe Lake.  Grayling have a small mouth like a whitefish.  I used small nymphs and manged to catch 5-6 small grayling.

The initial study may lead to stocking.  The State of Michigan tried both river and lake stocking of grayling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the fish didn't establish due to a number of factors, including hooking mortality, disease, predation, and competition.

Grayling are a somewhat fragile species and not very aggressive.  The stream survey will add more information on water discharge, substrate, water temperature, and "food drift".    The land around the river in this area is national forest and adjacent to tribal land.

It is exciting to hear that the Arctic Grayling might one again swim in a stream in Michigan.  It is even more exciting when it is happening in your own back yard!